As you have probably heard, the prequel to The Da Vinci Code, “Angels and Demons,” is coming to theaters this May. From the trailer (which you can see here), it looks like more of the same: the big, bad Catholic Church knows nothing about Jesus, hates science and only cares about keeping its power. Yawn.
What strikes me most about representations of Jesus in places like the Da Vinci Code, the Jesus Seminar, and the annual Easter media Jesus-bash is how commonplace and boring that Jesus is. Each of these revisionist Jesuses have one thing in common: no one would ever give their life to that man. No one would go to the ends of the earth preaching about a nice preacher who died due to an unfortunate misunderstanding. No one would radically change their lifestyle for a proto-socialist who just wanted to live a quiet life with Mary Magdalene. No one would be martyred for a Jesus who didn’t really raise from the dead.
But the traditional Jesus – the one who claimed to be the Way, the Truth and the Life, the one who demanded that we be perfect and follow him in order to be saved, the one who died a bloody death to save us and defeated the powers of death by rising from the grave – is the Jesus who produces a radical change in the lives of individuals who follow him. This is the Jesus that is the impetus for a worldwide religion that has changed human history. This is the Jesus who is the inspiring force behind countless saints.
It is this Jesus – the Jesus of the Scriptures and of history – that I am trying to present in my book Who Do You Say That I Am? He is the Lord to whom millions have made a radical commitment, thereby changing the world forever.
So when you hear about the “new Jesus” this Easter or in May, remember that the “trad Jesus” is the “rad Jesus.”